Government must hold firm on Brexit

11 December 2018

Speaking in response to the announcement by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to postpone Parliament’s vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, leader of the Labour Party called for Leo Varadkar and the Government to hold firm.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Months ago, I cautioned the Taoiseach that there was a risk of Ireland’s interests being a bargaining chip in the last minute negotiations between the EU and UK over Brexit. The Withdrawal Agreement secured Ireland’s interests and statements of support from across the member states of the EU. But now it is once again under pressure.

“Theresa May has consistently reduced complex Brexit issues to simple ones. She decided the main cause of Brexit was immigration. She has now decided the single problem with the Withdrawal Agreement is the potential permanency of the Northern Irish backstop. She appears determined to seek further reassurances from European leaders on Thursday that the backstop will not be permanent, which is unacceptable to Ireland.

“A backstop is not an insurance policy for Ireland is it is time-limited or if the UK can unilaterally pull out of it. The rhetoric from some Tory MPs calling for economic leverage to be applied to Ireland to remove the backstop shows that there are some who have no regard for Ireland’s sovereignty.

“It is now vital for Ireland that the Taoiseach and Government hold firm at Thursday’s EU summit. We cannot concede anything that might bring back a hard border in Ireland.

“At the same time, we will work to ensure such a close future relationship with the UK that the backstop need never be needed. And in the event that the UK does hold a second referendum, we will advocate for changes that would make remaining in the EU an attractive offer for the UK.”

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